June 4, 2020

Topanga Symphony Concert Tour— Russia, Germany, Topanga



Topanga Symphony Concert Tour— Russia, Germany, Topanga

Clarinet soloist Jim Stanley.

Embracing the concept that “music is the international language,” the Topanga Symphony musically jetted around the globe during the November concert of its 34th season playing pieces by composers from Russia, Germany and Topanga.

The concert began with “Topanga Symphony” by Jerome Kessler, Music Director and Conductor of the Topanga Symphony since it began in 1982.

Jim Stanley was soloist for German-born Carl Maria von Weber’s “Concertino for Clarinet in E flat Major.” Rounding out the tour was Russian-born Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 2 in C minor.”


Topanga Symphony Concert Tour— Russia, Germany, Topanga

Clarinet soloist Jim Stanley with conductor Jerome Kessler and the Topanga Symphony.

Cementing our quaint city of Topanga into its own place in the classical genre, Kessler’s “Topanga Symphony” was first premiered in 1997. This performance in 2015, brought Kessler’s daughter, Jennifer (French horn extraordinaire), and granddaughter, Isabella, to Topanga from New York. As the piece was about to begin, two-year old Isabella gave a shout out to “Grandpa” as the musical generations branch out from the incredibly talented Kessler lineage.

The composer commented in the program notes that, “It is a special treat for a composer to write a work with the premiere’s performers in mind. Their talents, individual abilities and quirks inspire and sometimes even suggest musical ideas.”

The playful first movement enabled each of the sections to shine with a melody that showed the love for his orchestra. The calm, tranquil and peaceful second movement was a prelude to a sunrise over the Santa Monica Mountain’s majesty. The third movement showed Kessler’s comical wit and command of the orchestral sound. It conjured images of animals, children playing, and the cacophony of traffic on Highway 27. This piece deserves to be bottled and sold as a musical image of our beloved city as seen through the eyes of a master composer.

Jim Stanley has been the principal clarinetist with the Topanga Symphony since 2003. His comfortable and friendly demeanor was felt immediately as he took center stage. “Concertino for Clarinet in E flat Major” is etched in the DNA of the clarinetist so, of course, it was memorized and played with such precision and clarity that the audience could feel the tones enter the room with the drama of creation. The virtuosity of Stanley’s skills brings together the highest and lowest sounds of the clarinet and everything in between with an ease that defies the true complexity of the instrument.

Intermission at the Topanga Symphony concerts releases the audience to mingle on the beautiful Community House grounds and enjoy the ideal weather and company of fellow classical music fans.

The Topanga Symphony has enjoyed the support of the Topanga Community Club for the past 33 years and the mutual admiration of all the people of our “village” who help keep the music playing.

When the audience returned to their seats for the second half of the concert, Jim Stanley returned to the floor to express, this time in words, the passion he brings to classical music as an art form and the need to support the orchestra.

“What you have in Topanga is unique,” Stanley began, explaining that, although the concerts are free to the public, there are costs. “Individuals in the community must keep classical music heard not only at Disney Hall and in Vienna, but also in Topanga,” he said, urging people to become a Friend of the Symphony and donate.

Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 2 in C minor” brings together the brilliance and amazing talents of the musicians of the Topanga Symphony. From the blaring brass to the dramatic strings, anything Tchaikovsky is bound to bring the audience’s reverence for the master composer on a ride that goes from frenzied speed to creatively calm and from majestic strength to lyrical magic. This ticket to the Russian countryside brings the world a little closer together through the collective experience of a Topanga Symphony concert.


The next Topanga Symphony experience will be on March 13, 2016. Don’t miss it! Meanwhile, Happy Holidays to all those who have supported and enjoyed this musical treasure all year long. When you think of holiday gift giving, perhaps a membership to the Topanga Symphony might be in order for that special someone in your life who also loves classical music.


To keep classical music and the Symphony thriving in Topanga, become a Friend by making a donation at www.topangasymphony.com.